The stage was set, Sunday afternoon in the great outdoors at the Greek Theatre, Los Angeles. Cloud9 versus old rivals Team Liquid, a repeat of the LCS Lock-in finals earlier this year, where Team Liquid managed to beat Cloud9 in a close 3-2 victory.
However, things were different this time around. Cloud9 have grown a lot at the start of the 2021 season. They found their unique style with aggressive play, where Team Liquid were still struggling to find consistency. Surrounded by wildlife and with a brisk outside breeze, the battle lines were drawn and the LCS Mid-Season Showdown final was about to start.
At the helm of the Cloud9 ship stood Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković, one of the most decorated western players of all time. Winning the LEC multiple times, first place at MSI and several high finishes at Worlds – now the next step in his career is winning the LCS and representing North America at MSI.
Perkz’s story is special. In his first EU LCS Season (Now named LEC), he immediately announced himself as one of the very best midlaners in the region. Shortly after, G2 started dominating the LEC. With the addition of Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winther, G2 Esports seemed unstoppable as they made it all the way to the Worlds finals in 2019. Now, two years later, Perkz stands on yet another finals stage. From midlaner, to AD carry back to the mid lane, while being able to play both roles at a world-class level is of course a feat in itself.
The finals showed exactly what Cloud9 have done during the season to grow. OCE player Ibrahim ‘Fudge’ Allami had a rough start to the season, often overextending and seeing other NA top laners get the better of him. However, he's been vocal about the fact that both Perkz and Jesper ‘Zven’ Svenningsen taught him a lot over the course of his first split with the team. This resulted in his performance skyrocketing and even beating star players like 100 Thieves’ Kim ‘Ssumday’ Chan-ho in lane.
The final started shakily for C9, they were unable to close out the game at the fourth dragon. This meant that their mostly AD composition was losing steam against Team Liquid’s tanky composition. Despite some great team fights, Sven’s Kalista was unable to deal enough damage against the tanky Team Liquid players. The second game went a lot longer; multiple Barons were needed in order to close the game out. Cloud9 won a couple of key team fights and were able to even the game score.
With the third game going Team Liquid’s way, Cloud9 had to try something new. They opted for one of Perkz’s signature picks, Zoe. The game started out well for C9, a quick first blood for Fudge in the top lane meant that Cloud9 had the pressure on their side. After that, things went quiet for about 20 minutes. The fights went relatively evenly, until Perkz hit a miracle bubble in the river, resulting in a massive team fight win for Cloud9 which ultimately allowed them to even up the series.
In the final game, Perkz showed why he's considered one of the best midlaners in the world. On Sylas, he was everywhere on the map. He picked up first blood by flashing over the Dragon pit wall to pick off Team Liquid’s retreating support. A few moments later, he was ganking top lane, all while able to not fall too far behind in CS. Team Liquid were absolutely powerless against the onslaught of Perkz. In one of the last team fights, both Perkz and Sven darted around the bottom river – picking up kills in the process. The domination in game five meant that both Perkz and Sven ran to the middle of the Greek Theatre to hoist their new 2021 Mid-Season Showdown trophy!
The next step for Cloud9 is the Mid-Season Invitational, held in Reykjavik, where they'll be facing off against the winners of regional championships around the world. While some of the competitions are still ongoing, we know that they will be up against the LEC’s Mad Lions and LCK’s Damwon Gaming. Perkz and his squad will get to show what they've learned in the LCS on the world stage. The last time an NA team went to MSI they made it into the finals, so let’s see if Cloud9 can top that and win it all.
MSI kicks off on May 6, make sure to keep an eye out for any updates and interviews.